The little Brooklyn biz known for creating Sweet’n Low celebrated its 500 billionth carnation-colored packet this week, reminding a Splenda-iferous world that the old lady of sugar-free is still going strong.
And let the sugar puns begin!
“It’s pretty sweet,” deadpanned Borough Historian Ron Schweiger before turning serious about the decline of Brooklyn industry.
“Domino Sugar left. The oil industry left, the Navy is gone. At least we kept something indulgent,” he said.
The scion of the company, Ben Eisenstadt, invented the world’s first granulated sugar substitute in 1957, the year the Dodgers left his hometown.
And for the past 49 years, Eisenstadt’s saccharine blend has been mixed, packed and shipped from a low-slung factory across from the Navy Yards in Fort Greene.
“It’s a beautiful, lovely pink place,” said Brenda Holland, a Sweet’n Low packer who estimated her share of the 500 billion packets produced by the company as “a lot.”
Eisenstadt’s company, Cumberland Packing, donated the 500 billionth packet to the Brooklyn Historical Society.
The Pink Panther, as the sweetener is now trying to re-brand itself, has seen its fate shift along with the tides of American culture and health.
The diet craze of the 1970s, and 1980s brought prosperity, but like TAB, the no-cal drink with a similar aftertaste, the growth of the nation’s multi-billion-dollar diet industry brought competitors and flagging profits to Cumberland.
A mob scandal and unproven links to cancer in the 1990s didn’t help — but the nation’s battle with diabetes — the sixth leading cause of death in the Brooklyn — has the pink lady no longer singing the blues (except in diners where only Equal is offered).
“As terrible as it is, diabetes has been good for us,” said company CEO Steven Eisenstadt, the third-generation Eisenstadt to run the company.